ANN ARBOR, Mich. (NNS) -- Fourteen Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) midshipmen were commissioned as naval officers by President Barack Obama at a joint-service commissioning ceremony held during the University of Michigan's spring commencement exercises in Ann Arbor, Mich., May 1.
The 10 Navy-option and four Marine-option NROTC midshipmen, officer candidates and Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program (MECEP) students were among 45 people to be personally recognized by the president in front of an audience of more than 80,000 people before entering military service.
"There are very few people in the military that have actually ever been read the oath of office by the commander-in-chief," said Ensign Lucas Strasser, one of the newly commissioned officers. "So, it was really exciting for me to have that honor."
Strasser's mother, Joy, said watching her son be commissioned by the president was an extremely proud moment for her.
"It was the thrill of my life just to be here and have the honor of having my son join the service and be an officer and then to have the oath of office (administered by the President) is beyond words," she said.
Although numerous NROTC midshipmen will receive commissions over the next few weeks, receiving a commission from the president is a rare opportunity.
"Receiving their commissions from the commander-in-chief in front of 80,000 people is an experience our new officers will never forget," said Capt. Richard Vanden Heuvel, commanding officer of the University of Michigan NROTC unit.
During his commencement address, President Obama expressed words of encouragement to the graduates and newly-commissioned officers.
"This democracy we have is a precious thing," said the president. "For all the arguments and all the doubts and all the cynicism that's out there today, we should never forget that as Americans, we enjoy more freedoms and opportunities than citizens in any other nation on Earth.
"Continue the tradition so many of you started here at Michigan and find a way to serve your community and your country - an act that will help you stay connected to your fellow citizens and improve the lives of those around you."
When President Obama finished administering the oath of office to the newly commissioned officers, he congratulated them.
"We are proud of you," he said.
The fellow graduates of the newly-commissioned officers also demonstrated how proud they were when they gave a standing ovation immediately following the swearing-in of the officers.
Referring to the overwhelming support displayed by the crowd for the new officers, Vanden Heuvel commented, "A standing ovation in the Big House is a great way to start your career!"
The NROTC program, overseen by Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) at Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill., was established to develop midshipmen mentally, morally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, loyalty and Navy core values in order to commission college graduates as Naval officers who possess a basic professional background, are motivated toward careers in the Naval service and have a potential for future development in mind and character so as to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.
For more information about NROTC, visit https://www.nrotc.navy.mil.
For more news from Naval Service Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/greatlakes/.